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Suspended Kemsa director refused to approve tenders

By Anthony Mwangi
Thursday, March 25th, 2021
Kemsa suspended Director, Commercial Services Eliud Muriithi when he appeared before Public Investments Committee. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI
In summary
    • Edward Mureithi, the suspended Director Commercial Services told MPs how he flatly refused to yield to demands by Manjari to sign the tenders which he said did not follow the due process.
    • Suspended Procurement Manager Charles Juma told the committee that Manjari usurped his role and that he was not given an opportunity to execute his mandate.

A top manager at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) refused to approve tenders amounting to Sh2.3 billion despite pressure from suspended CEO Jonah Manjari.

Edward Mureithi, the suspended Director Commercial Services told MPs how he flatly refused to yield to demands by Manjari to sign the tenders, which he said did not follow the due process.

“I was under pressure from the CEO to sign for the tenders but I refused. They were however effected without my approval,” Mureithi said when he appeared before the Public Investments Committee (PIC).

Manjari no-show

The revelations are new to the investigation which has centred on Sh7.8 billion spent on the purchase of Covid-19 related materials.

Mureithi could not however tell whether the tenders were part of the Sh7.8 billion or were extras.

Manjari, who was expected to appear before the committee, yesterday failed to show.

He told the committee through an email that he was out of town and requested for more time.

Committee chairman Abdulswamad Nassir (Mvita) said Manjari will be given a new date since he had shown commitment to honour the invite.

And suspended Director Procurement, Charles Juma also turned against his former boss accusing him of ordering him to award tenders even where due process was not followed.

“I was at times given ultimatums to sign commitment letters, at times 30 minute deadlines. I was working under duress,” Juma told the committee adding that the period was his most trying in his 30 years working in the profession.

He told the committee that out of the 102 companies that were awarded tenders, only two went through the proper process.

“For the rest of the companies, only commitment letters were issued and due process was not followed.

Juma told the committee that Manjari usurped his role and that he was not given an opportunity to execute his mandate.

“The CEO was incharge of everything, it was him and him only,” Juma told the committee.

Mureithi told the committee how a negotiation team was set up to deal with the suppliers. He said it was suppliers who came up with the prices only for the negotiation committee to deliberate on them, but in most cases, it was in favour of the suppliers.

Own prices

“Did you find that professional for suppliers to come up with own prices as opposed to the tenderer?” posed Nassir.

In response, Mureithi said it was the CEO’s initiative and hence could not be questioned. He however found himself on the receiving end after he failed to explain why he went to source for suppliers offering items at higher prices.

“I put to you that you were the architect of the scam. You were incharge of pricing and went on to disregard suppliers offering at low prices in favour of the costly ones,” said Rashid Kassim (Wajir East).

Mureithi could not explain why the authority bought Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) at Sh9,000 while there were suppliers selling them at Sh4,500.

Manjari has been accused of flouting procurement guidelines in favour of certain companies during the acquisition of PPEs following the outbreak of Covid-19.

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